Expert asks academia to understand India’s stand on geopolitical issues

Foreign policy expert Skand Ranjan Tayal speaks during the programme, in the city on Thursday.

SHILLONG, Sep 23: In the midst of contemporary geopolitical tensions on the global front, veteran foreign policy expert Skand Ranjan Tayal has exhorted the academia to understand the importance of geostrategic position of India for securing her national interests.
Tayal was addressing a gathering at a lecture series of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on ‘India’s Foreign Policy and its Evolution through Decades’, organised by the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) on Thursday.
Tayal, who spoke on ‘India’s options in the changing dynamic of Act East policy’, argued that India is able to expand its cooperative policy framework in the whole of South and Southeast Asia.
Shedding light on India’s cooperative paradigm of policy-making that evolved after the Cold War, Tayal cited potential of India’s participation in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
“While India is able to improve on volume of trade and is able to get the ASEAN nations contribute to Atmanirbhar Bharat, mutual cooperation is still to reach a dynamic stage,” he said.
Accentuating the need to further increase the size of ASEAN’s economy on the global GDP and BIMSTEC’s role in promoting technological and economic cooperation, Tayal surmised that in spite of India’s strong efforts at increasing volume of trade through lowering of tariff for imports, Free Trade Agreements with many countries within the formation cannot achieve complex goals of regional security and stability.
Calling upon the academic fraternity to comprehend the importance of geostrategic stand of India for securing her national interests, Tayal said, “This is the pivot of decision-making, keeping in mind India’s security concerns with South Asian neighbours and then promoting mutual economic and technological interests. India’s overall geopolitical positioning in many conflicts has been based on strategic ways of finding peace and then promoting national interests through cooperation.”
He contended that India has to play a cautious mediating and neutralising role in conflicts like Ukraine or nearer home in not allowing a formation like Asia Pacific Economic Concern (APEC) to align with a China and Pakistan axis.
“India, therefore, is successful in turning bipolar into multipolar through its role in various formations like ASEAN and BIMSTEC,” Tayal said.
He, during the programme, also deemed India’s civilisational, spiritual and philosophical linkages with South Asia and Southeast Asia as the very basis of Act East Policy.
NEHU Vice Chancellor Prof. PS Shukla, in his address, stated that the university can play a significant role in Act East Policy.
“While NEHU can draw a fine balance between local and global in terms of implementation of UGC’s mandate on internationalisation of higher education by seats on a supernumerary basis to foreign students, it can also promote diplomacy through higher education that can have direct bearing on multilateral cooperative frameworks,” he said.
It may be mentioned that the lecture generated a lot of interesting debates and discussions from the august audience.